Irish SB20 Season opens at Royal St George YC
So the winter has been hideously cold, and the recession is biting hard, and one could be forgiven for expecting a lacklustre season opener for any sailing class given the current climate. But not for the SB3 Class in Ireland! Out of the sheds and gardens they came in their droves, with great cheer and enthusiasm, and a 43 boat fleet set out for the first ding dong of the 2010 season. Clearly whatever is happening out there, it isn’t dampening the enthusiasm of Ireland’s youngest and most vibrant collection of oldies.
All the usual protaganists where there, the match racing Kiwi, Flipper Flanagan, Sean Craig, Pete Kennedy, Theo Lyttle, Colin Galavan, Killian Collins (having traded in his brother for Audrey for the weekend), Homer and Marge and Baby Brother O’Connell – plus a fair pack of talent well capable of posting a few good results on the day snapping at their rudders.
Clearly however, it was to be service resumed with Ben Duncan’s Sharkbait and Flanagan’s Gill Race Team grasping the nettle in what was a stingy breeze for most. With the breeze flicking viciously on the right shoreline, big gains were possible, with race one turning inside out and providing glory for some, and a plughole for many. Not even the Sharkbait crew could have imagined the lead they would take to the finish as they sailed around the fleet following an smart early gybe into breeze on the left. Sean Craig was one who really came a cropper in this one, and plenty were already posting their discard (or hoped they were) before the event had barely begun.
Saturday was a day for some big blasting and broaching, as the breeze topped 25 knots on occasion and left a battle weary but delighted fleet heading for a delightful buffet dinner in the George for the evening. Sunday, true to form, Dublin Bay managed to throw up some massive ladders for those getting themselves in the right spot, with Trevor Darcy in Bullet making the most spectaular intervention from wide left field on Sunday morning, extending their lead to the finish.
Top boat of day two was Aidan O’Connell with a remarkable 3,4,1, contrasting with the usually consistent Duncan’s 2,19 and 18. Flanagan, as so often in the past, was either able to sniff out where the gain was coming from next, or were able to dig themselves out of midfield to keep themselves in the top 5 throughout. Consistency was always going to be the key, with the breeze going from a patchy SW with gusts, to nothing, until it was replaced with a bizarre breeze from the East for race 6. The trophy was pretty much a race off between Gill race Team and Sharkbait by then, and despite Duncan’s team getting the upper hand in the first start, the deal was pretty much done 50% of the way up the beat on the restart. Confusion reigned, as those standing on from the start hooked into a 20 degree lefty, to cross by a mile those who had tacked off to cover any right side bias that seemed likely to evolve. None moreso than the Sharkbait boys, who found themselves languishing on the outside of a truly wierd hole that ran down the middle of the right side of the course, which they kept falling into as they tried to get back into the centre of the course. They rounded the top mark pretty much DFL and despite a great effort to get back through the traffic, it was game set and opening match to the Boys from Ballyholme.
Royal St George Yacht Club excelled themselves again, setting an exceptional standard under the direction of Sean Craig, and most importantly showed how friendly and welcoming a club they are. Things are certainly alive and well in the SB3 fleet in Ireland, and all eyes will be on the Baily bowl in May, and the Northern Areas at Royal North in June.
Images can be found at: http://www.fotosail.com/pages/eventpage.php?eventID=73